The Largest Pizza Chain In The US Isn't Actually A Pizza Place

When on the hunt for a quick, budget-friendly slice, you might be a dedicated Domino's customer, or perhaps the Hot-N-Ready style of Little Caesars is what calls to you. Both chains have thousands of locations across the U.S., so the convenience is undeniable. But you might be surprised to know neither of these well-known brands is the largest pizza chain in the U.S.

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In fact, other popular chains like Pizza Hut and Papa John's do not hold the top spot for being the largest pizza chain in the nation either. Based on the number of locations, the largest pizza chain in the country is Hunt Brothers Pizza.

Hunt Brothers Pizza is not a standalone pizza chain — instead of following the standard franchise model like its competitors, it simply sells ordering kiosks, frozen pizzas, and ingredients to convenience stores. Despite this unconventional growth strategy, it has managed to reach more than 9,500 locations throughout the East, South, and Midwest. Here's how these pies managed to outgrow the competition on a national scale.

Hunt Brothers Pizza is the largest pizza chain, and it's not close

Hunt Brothers is best known for its locations within convenience stores, rather than any standalone restaurant of its own. ScrapeHero, a data company, found the 10 largest pizza chains in the country. Hunt Brothers took first place with its 9,500-plus locations.

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This footprint is much larger than Domino's 6,929 locations, Pizza Hut's 6,775, Little Caesar's 4,203, and Papa John's 3,145. The numbers aren't the only thing that stands out about this pizza chain, though. Hunt's Brothers has grown its empire by selling premade frozen pizzas, ovens, and ingredients to its convenience store partners. These partners do not pay typical fees or royalties and are not tied to the brand for a specific amount of time by a strict contract. 

It should be noted, though, that Hunt Brothers has locations in just 36 states while the runner-up, Domino's, has locations in all 50 states and some territories. Texas also accounts for a large slice of Hunt Brothers Pizza locations, with 1,041 stores in the state making up 11% of the chain's total spread.

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Hunt Brothers is more than just gas station pizza

Hunt Brothers offers original and thin-crust pizzas with 10 different toppings at no additional charge. The convenience pizza chain also has chicken wings and chicken bites on its menu. But what is most interesting is Hunt Brothers' Breakfast Pizza. The pizza is topped with scrambled eggs, bacon, breakfast sausage, and a blend of mozzarella cheese and cheddar. This breakfast offering is extremely similar to another highly popular and successful convenience store chain. 

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Casey's General Stores, a convenience store chain located throughout the Midwest, has a cult following specifically behind its own breakfast pizza topped with eggs and a customer's choice of bacon, sausage, or veggies. Casey's itself has more than 2,200 locations in 16 states, and back in 2021 it was among the top five largest pizza chains in the nation. 

Hunt Brothers is also responsible for pioneering the rising crust frozen pizza style many associate with DiGiorno's at-home pizzas — it started using frozen rising crust pizzas in the 1990s. The gas station may not be the first place you think of getting a quality slice, but you may want to think again. Gas station pizza is nothing to scoff at anymore. The moral of this story is don't knock it till you try it.

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